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Amazon Music (previously Amazon MP3) is a music streaming platform, online music store, and music locker operated by Launched in public beta on September 25, 2007,[1] in January 2008 it became the first music store to sell music without digital rights management (DRM) from the four major music labels (EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and Sony BMG), as well as many independents.[1][2][3][4] All tracks were originally sold in 256 kilobits-per-second variable bitrate MP3 format without per-customer watermarking or DRM; however, some tracks are now watermarked.[5] Licensing agreements with recording companies restrict the countries in which music can be sold: sells music only to US customers while sells music only to UK customers.[6]

Amazon Music
Opened September 25, 2007; 10 years ago (2007-09-25)
Pricing model Variable
Platforms Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, FireOS, Amazon Alexa
Format MP3 and AAC @ 256 kbit/s VBR
Restrictions None
Catalogue 29,157,740 songs
Preview 30 Seconds
Availability United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Spain, Canada

After the United States, Amazon MP3 was launched in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2008, in Germany on April 1, 2009, and in France on June 10, 2009.[7] The German edition has been available in Austria and Switzerland since December 3, 2009. The Amazon MP3 store was launched in Japan on November 10, 2010.[8][9] The Spanish and Italian editions were launched on October 4, 2012.

Amazon launched Amazon Cloud Player as an extension to Amazon MP3 store in the United States on March 29, 2011.


Catalog availabilityEdit

At launch, Amazon offered "over 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists and over 20,000 labels, including EMI Music and Universal Music Group", to customers located in the United States only.[1] In December 2007 Warner Music announced that it would offer its catalog on Amazon MP3[2] and in January 2008, Sony BMG followed suit.[3][4] The current catalog is 29.1 million songs.[10]

Global availability of Amazon Music

In January 2008, Amazon announced plans to roll Amazon MP3 out "internationally".[11] Amazon limits international access by checking users' credit card issued country. The first international version was launched December 3, 2008 in the United Kingdom. German, French, Japanese, Italian and Spanish versions of the store followed.

In addition to digital purchases, Amazon Music also serves streaming music. Prime Music, a service offering unlimited streaming of a limited music catalog has been available to Amazon Prime subscribers in several countries since mid 2014.[12] Music Unlimited, a full-catalog streaming service has been available as an additional or standalone subscription since late 2016.[13]

Supported platformsEdit

Amazon Music's streaming music catalog is accessible from the web player or from player apps for multiple platforms including macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, FireOS, Alexa devices, and some automobiles and smart TVs. Amazon's purchasable music catalog is accessible from the web site by searching for an artist or title name, or via a store embedded in many, but not all, of the player apps. To download purchased music, Amazon offers either the Amazon Music player (which runs on Windows 7 or later and Mac OS X 10.9 and later) or a zip file of MP3s downloaded from Amazon's web player (from any platform that supports a modern web browser).

Amazon Music previously offered additional applications, such as one for Blackberry and one for Palm. These are no longer offered. Amazon also previously offered a separate app for Mac OS X and Windows called the Amazon Music Downloader which is no longer available. The downloader was purely for downloading purchased tracks, it did not offer music playback capabilities.


On February 1, 2008, Pepsi introduced a Pepsi Stuff promotion in partnership with Amazon MP3.[14][15] Customers can exchange points offered on 4 billion Pepsi bottles for, among other prizes, MP3 downloads from Warner, EMI, and Sony BMG (though not Universal).

Rockstar Games' 2008 title Grand Theft Auto IV connects to Amazon MP3. Players can register on the Rockstar Games Social Club web site to receive e-mail outside the game containing a link to buy marked songs from Amazon MP3.[16]

Myspace has sold music from Amazon MP3 as part of its MySpace Music feature since September 2008.[17]


Initial reaction to Amazon MP3 was generally positive. The unofficial Apple Weblog praised the lack of DRM especially given that track prices were cheaper than iTunes Plus songs at launch, but the reviewer considered the user experience better in iTunes than on the Amazon web site.[18] Om Malik of GigaOM also praised the lack of DRM and the high bitrate but disliked the need to install another application to download albums. Overall, the reviewer said "…I think it makes sense for everyone to browse the Amazon store before hitting the 'buy' button on iTunes."[19]

A 2007 study by Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired News's "Listening Post" blog investigated whether Amazon MP3 was watermarking tracks with personally identifiable information. Van Buskirk quoted an Amazon spokesperson as saying, "Amazon does not apply watermarks. Files are generally provided to us from the labels and some labels use watermarks to identify the retailer who sold the tracks (there is no information on the tracks that identifies the customer)." The study concluded that although tracks may be watermarked to indicate that they were purchased on Amazon MP3, there is no data to indicate which specific customer purchased a given MP3 file.[20] This observation reflected Amazon's policy at the time.[21]


By 2011, however, the policy had changed and certain explicitly labeled tracks embed "Record Company Required Metadata" including, among other information, unique identifiers:[22][23]

Embedded in the metadata of each purchased MP3 from [Universal Music Group] are a random number Amazon assigns to your order, the Amazon store name, the purchase date and time, codes that identify the album and song (the UPC and ISRC), Amazon’s digital signature, and an identifier that can be used to determine whether the audio has been modified. In addition, Amazon inserts the first part of the email address associated with your account

Music downloaded during the temporary promotional time period of trial membership will be blocked from access if the membership isn't continued.

Amazon Music PlayerEdit

The Amazon Music player (formerly branded Cloud Player) is integrated with the digital music Prime and Unlimited streaming services, as well as the music store for purchases (on most platforms). The players allow users to store and play their music from a web browser, mobile apps, and desktop applications, Sonos, and other platforms such as certain smart TVs.

Amazon Music Player accounts get 250 tracks of free storage; however, music purchased through Amazon MP3 store does not count towards the storage limit.[24] Once the music is stored in Amazon Music, a user can choose to download it to one of the Android, iOS, or desktop devices using Amazon Music application.

Music is uploaded via the Amazon Music player for PC and Mac. Previously Amazon offered the Amazon MP3 Uploader which was an Adobe AIR application.

Amazon Music allows 10 devices (computer, browser, mobile, etc.) to be authorized. Customers can deauthorize their old devices via a web interface.[25]

Originally bundled with Amazon Cloud Drive was the music streaming application called Cloud Player which allowed users to play their music stored in the Cloud Drive from any computer or Android device with Internet access. This was discontinued.

Amazon Music for PC was launched in May 2013 as a downloadable Windows application for playing music outside a web browser. The OS X version of Amazon Music was released in October 2013.

On December 8, 2015,[26] Amazon Prime Music became available on Denon® Electronics HEOS by Denon wireless sound systems, adding a new streaming outlet for music and entertainment enthusiasts.[27][28]

On October 12, 2016, Amazon Music Unlimited was released in the United States.[13] Music Unlimited is a full-catalog unlimited streaming service, available as a monthly or annual subscription. It is billed in addition to, and available without an Amazon Prime account. The service later expanded to users in the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria on November 14, 2016.[29]


Much commentary on Amazon Music at launch focused on its legality, since Amazon launched the service without the approval of the record labels. Amazon's official statement was "Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It's like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available."[30] Technology website Ars Technica noted that this is "seemingly logical" since users are uploading and playing back their own music, so the licenses users acquired from the original purchase apply to the Cloud Player in the same way they apply to transferring and playing music from an external hard drive or digital audio player.[30] Techdirt commented that the Cloud Player is "just letting people take music files they already [have], and allowing them to store and stream them from the internet. Why should it require an extra license to let people listen to music they already have?"[31]

Record labels reacted in shock to the Cloud Player's launch,[32] insisting that licenses were needed for this type of service.

Intellectual property lawyer Denise Howell stated that "the legality of cloud storage and remote access to items already purchased make intuitive sense", but given the record labels' reaction and track record of legal action against online music services, warned that it will likely take "definitive and hard-fought judicial pronouncements" to settle the issue.[32]


  1. ^ a b c Launches Public Beta of Amazon MP3
  2. ^ a b Leeds, Jeff (December 28, 2007). "Amazon to Sell Warner Music Minus Copy Protection". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved December 28, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "Amazon Adds Fourth Major Record Label To DRM-Free Music Store". InformationWeek. January 10, 2008. Archived from the original on October 10, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Hansell, Saul (January 10, 2008). "Sony Drives Another Nail in the D.R.M. Coffin". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 23, 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Example of Product with Watermarking". 
  6. ^ Help > Digital Products Help > Amazon MP3 Music Downloads > Amazon MP3 Music Terms of Use
  7. ^ "Amazon lance sa boutique de musique en ligne en France" (in French). AFP. June 10, 2009. Retrieved June 10, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Amazon launches MP3 store in Japan". 
  9. ^ "Amazon Japan Launches MP3 Store". 
  10. ^ "Amazon MP3 Song Database". 2014-05-11. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. 
  11. ^ Amazon to Begin International Rollout of Amazon MP3 in 2008
  12. ^ Dredge, Stuart (2014-06-12). "Amazon Prime Music streaming service launches in the US with 1m songs". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-03-26. 
  13. ^ a b "Amazon's full on-demand streaming music service launches today". The Verge. 2016-10-12. Retrieved 2017-03-26. 
  14. ^ Amazon, Pepsi Team For Super Bowl MP3 Giveaway
  15. ^ Amazon, Pepsi Prep Massive MP3 Promotion
  16. ^ "GTA IV Unveils New Music Download Model". Yahoo!. April 10, 2008. Archived from the original on April 1, 2008. Retrieved April 10, 2008. 
  17. ^ Van Buskirk, Eliot (September 24, 2008). "MySpace Takes On iTunes With DRM-Free, Amazon-Backed Site". Wired News. CondéNet. Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2008. 
  18. ^ Amazon MP3: a quick review
  19. ^ Amazon MP3 vs. Apple iTunes: Where Should You Shop?
  20. ^ Some of Amazon's MP3 Tracks Contain Watermarks
  21. ^ Some Of Amazon’s MP3 Tracks Contain Watermarks
  22. ^ GagaGate, DRM and How To Cripple The Cloud
  23. ^ Record Company Required Metadata
  24. ^ " Getting Started: Music Store and Music Player for Web". Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  25. ^ Authorizing Your Device
  26. ^ Stacia Kirby (8 December 2015). "HEOS® by Denon Brings Amazon Prime Music to its Wireless Multi-Room Sound System". PRWeb. 
  27. ^ RICH EDMONDS (10 December 2015). "Tune into Amazon Prime Music on Denon HEOS wireless sound systems". Mobile Nations. 
  28. ^ RS Staff (9 December 2015). "HEOS by Denon Brings Amazon Prime Music to its Wireless Multi-Room Sound System". NewBay Media, LLC. 
  29. ^ Hardwick, Tim. "Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Out Across Germany, Austria, and the U.K". Retrieved 2017-03-26. 
  30. ^ a b Cheng, Jacqui (29 March 2011). "Amazon on Cloud Player: we don't need no stinkin' licenses". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. 
  31. ^ Masnick, Mike (April 13, 2011). "Amazon Insists No Licenses Needed For Cloud Player, Google Thinking Of Skipping Licenses As Well". Techdirt. Floor64. 
  32. ^ a b Cheng, Jacqui (31 March 2011). "Music industry will force licenses on Amazon Cloud Player—or else". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. 

External linksEdit